SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #3 and 4

Book #3 was "The Indian Clerk" by David Leavitt. I've read something else by the author, but it would have been in the 1990s and I can't remember what it was. Likely it was "The Lost Language of Cranes." I remember thinking his prose was really beautiful. I was interested in this book because of the subject matter most, however. It's a fictionalized account of the Indian self-taught mathematical genius S. Ramanujan (trivia: Amita Ramanujan from the TV show Numb3rs is named after him) coming to Cambridge and collaborating with another mathematical genius, G.H. Hardy, who was possibly (probably) gay. A huge theme in the novel is being an outsider. Ramanujan is rejected by some at Cambridge because he's Indian, Hardy is an outsider because he's an atheist and "lifelong bachelor", and his colleague Bertrand Russell gets run out of Cambridge around the same time for his anti-war views (yet another outsider). Leavitt does inject some wholly fictional characters and incidents, but it's also clear that he did his research. Some of the dialogue comes directly from letters to and from the principal characters. I really liked this very much.

Book #4 was "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominique Bauby. People probably know this best from the movie that was made of it, but the slim volume (just over 130 pages) was also an international best-seller. In 1995, Bauby was a dynamic 40-something editor of the French edition of Elle magazine when he had a horrible stroke, went into a coma, and woke up the victim of "locked-in syndrome." He had a somewhat atypical case in that he could also move his neck a little bit, but otherwise lost control of all but his eyes. He dictated the memoir by blinking his left eye as someone read read through the letters of the alphabet to slowly create words and then sentences. The memoir is really a series of short essays on his experience in the hospital and reminiscences of the past. It's full of good humor and wonderful sensual descriptions of food and other simple pleasures. I really was charmed by this book.

1. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection Paperback [fiction/graphic short story collection]- Matt Dembicki -Ed.
2. Light Music [fiction]- Kathleen Ann Goonan

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